Higher Calling

July 27, 2015


BUFFALO, NY – Rev. Ryan G. Duns ’02, S.J., and Rev. Aaron K. Engebretson MS ’10, S.J., were among 28 priests ordained into the Society of Jesus on Saturday, June 13. It is the largest group of new priests ordained by the Jesuits in more than 15 years.

Their ordinations are the culmination of a rigorous process which includes obtaining a graduate degree in theology, serving at Jesuit high schools and colleges, and travel abroad to work with the poor. The Jesuit formation process also includes service at local Catholic parishes and homeless shelters and as chaplains in hospitals and prisons, just as St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, laid out in his precise guidelines for Jesuit formation.

A native of Cleveland, OH, Duns holds a degree in religious studies from Canisius College. At age eight he picked up an Irish tin whistle for the first time and was performing in pubs all over his hometown by 14. As an eighth grader, he played in a band with a Jesuit and came to know the Jesuits as a student at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland. After Canisius, he returned to Cleveland to obtain his master’s degree in religious studies at John Carroll University. In 2003 Duns knew that God was calling him to the Society of Jesus. He earned a master’s degree in philosophy from Fordham University in 2009 and taught a course on the Irish tin whistle. Duns also began to post instructional tin whistle videos on YouTube. He taught theology and Latin at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy before being missioned to the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. Duns obtained a master’s degree in theology and served as a deacon at St. Cecelia Parish in Boston.

Duns was ordained at Queen of All Saints Basilica in Chicago, IL. He will continue to work on his doctorate in theology at the University of Boston. Duns writes a blog entitled “The Tin Whistle Priest.”            

A native of Kalispell, MT, Engebretson holds a master’s degree in education from Canisius College. His faith journey began during childhood when he would attend Saturday Mass with his father and stepmother, then Sunday morning evangelical Protestant services with his mother. Engebretson earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Carroll College in Helena, Montana while he worked part-time in the district office of his U.S. Congressional representative. During sophomore year, Engebretson converted to Catholicism, and also felt a calling to the Jesuit priesthood. He entered the Society of Jesus in 2004 after graduation.  As a novice Engebretson taught at Bellamine Preparatory School in Tacoma, WA and Toronto’s Regis College for advanced philosophy studies. After obtaining his master’s degree from Canisius, Engbretson’s assignments included working in the Jesuit archives in Rome, and teaching history at Bellamine Prep which also included service on the board of directors. He obtained a Master of Divinity degree and a master’s degree in secondary education administration from Boston College.    

Engebretson was ordained at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Hollywood, CA. He will serve as a teacher and administrator at Jesuit High School in Sacramento, California.

Canisius is one of 28 Jesuit universities in the nation and the premier private university in Western New York.